Teach Fido to play well with others

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dogs love to play with each other, but many times we interpret their romping as aggression and quickly put it to a stop. This is not good for your dog.

He needs to be able to safely socialize with and interact with other dogs. The key is to know what is safe and what is dangerous when it comes to play time.

Play, especially when dealing with puppies, is one of the most important behaviors Fido will engage in.

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Puppies develop bite inhibition from extended play time with other puppies. For example, baby Fido pins another pup on his back and mouths him around the neck as a form of play.

Fido bites down a little harder than his playmate likes and he yelps and runs away. By this happening Fido has learned to inhibit his bite if he wants his fun to continue.

Also, his playmate learns unpleasantness ends by escaping.

Unlike wolves, dogs do not outgrow playtime. Only unhappy or unhealthy dogs no longer want to play.

Dogs love to run, jump, bite, chase, and wrestle just for the fun of it.

Dogs will usually signal they want to play by getting in a play bow, which means their butt is in the air, the front of body is lowered to the ground, ears are up, tail is wagging, and his mouth almost looks like he is smiling.

When dogs are playing and not being aggressive towards each other, their bodies should be relaxed and bouncy.

If they are getting ready to fight you will see more tension.

Signs of fear will be something you want to keep an eye out for.

Some common signs of fear would be ears back; low body posture, averted gaze, lip licking, or tail is tucked.

If a dog is fearful, he is in no mood to play. What is fun for one dog may not be fun for Fido.

Although growling and biting may look and sound aggressive, it may not always be a sign of trouble.

Common sense must be used. It is not smart to let a Great Dane pounce on and play with a Chihuahua. Someone is destined to get hurt and it may be the Great Dane.

Dog parks are a great place to allow Fido to play with friends. Just make sure he doesn’t hang around with the wrong crowd.

If you arrive and see dogs acting aggressively, leave and try again later.

If your pup is the fearful type, a dog park may not be a good fit. If he gets frightened he may lash out by snapping and cause him to develop more behavior problems.

If your dog seems to hate a crowd, maybe he would like a small play group of one or two in your backyard.

Give it a try with a neighbor’s dog that has proven to be a good player.

Play time is an important component to proper socialization. It is vital for Fido to learn to play well with others.

This is especially important if you get a puppy that was taken away from his mother and pack before 8 to 12 weeks of age.

Learn your dog’s warning signs that say he has had enough and let the fun begin.

Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker

The BARKer Shop